A MAN who attacked a 90-year-old widow in her home, in a drunken rage over a broken mobile phone, has pleaded guilty to murder.
Georgina Barnett begged 46-year-old Thomas Brogan to stop as he hit her on the head and body. The widow was left with multiple fractures, bruises and a deep cut to the back of her head, and died five days later.
Unemployed Brogan pleaded guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh to murdering Ms Barnett, a mother of one daughter, at her home in Kirkcaldy in June.
The court heard the motive for the attack is unknown, but before the assault, Brogan appeared to have been angry with a drinking associate “in connection with a mobile phone”.
On the evening of the attack, Brogan was heard shouting and swearing from inside Ms Barnett’s flat. A neighbour heard the pensioner pleading with Brogan, saying: “Tam, stop, please. Please stop.” The pensioner later asked police officers: “Why was he hitting me?”
Ms Barnett, known to her friends as Doddy, had lived in her flat for more than three decades and was well-known and liked in the local area. She was frail but mentally alert and lived independently in her home.
The attack happened at around 8:30pm on 25 June.
The court heard that earlier that day, Brogan spoke to some of Ms Barnett’s neighbours. He was “extremely drunk and agitated, talking about a problem with his mobile phone and the sim card for it”.
From what they could tell, his anger appeared to be directed towards a man who was an associate of his, Bryan Hughes. Later that evening, neighbours heard two dull thuds from Ms Barnett’s living room, then a loud crashing noise, followed by shouting.
They rang police, believing Brogan was fighting with Mr Hughes in the flat, but were shocked to then hear Ms Barnett pleading with him to stop.
When police arrived, they found Brogan with his hands covered in blood. Ms Barnett was on the floor with severe facial injuries, and bleeding heavily from her head. Blood was spattered on a wall. She was conscious.
On arrival at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, she told staff Brogan had beaten her up. “He was angry with himself,” she told staff. She later told detectives he had come to her house drunk, “looking for the boy next door”.
Her condition worsened and she died on 30 June. A post-mortem examination found injuries consistent with a sustained blunt-force attack, including 11 fractured ribs and a fractured sternum.
Advocate depute Leanne Cross, prosecuting, said: “The scale and nature of the injuries, even allowing for her age, demonstrate a sustained and forcible attack.”
Brogan was detained at the scene by police. He told officers: “I done it. I done everything.”
The court heard he had ten previous convictions at summary level, mostly for dishonesty and public order offences.
His QC, Mark Stewart, told the court that Brogan apologised for what he did and was “mortified” by his conduct.
Speaking outside court, Ms Barnett’s nephew, Thomas Johnstone, said of his aunt: “She was a very sprightly 90-year-old. She would do everything in the house herself still. We’re all still shocked.”
Mr Johnstone welcomed Brogan’s guilty plea. He said: “It’s a relief we won’t have to go through a trial. We hope he gets a sentence that he really deserves. An apology doesn’t bring my auntie back. .”
Brogan will be sentenced on 30 October.